T-TOWN BOUNDPublished 11:35pm Friday, November 29, 2013
Charles Henderson advances to title game with wild 38-36 win over UMS-Wright
Mike Dean saw it coming, and he told his players about it all week long: UMS-Wright never quits.
Charles Henderson lead big midway through the fourth quarter, but had to hold on late, and get a big defensive play on a two-point conversion attempt, to advance to the Alabama High School Athletic Association Championship Game with a 38-36 win over the Bulldogs of UMS-Wright.
“UMS is not the defending state champions for nothing,” said Dean. “They showed a lot of character, and we showed a lot of character. I am proud of the resilience our guys showed late. We made some mistakes that showed we haven’t been in the semifinals before and let them back in it. I am proud of these kids and they way they fought to put us back in the state championship for the first time in 33 years.”
The Trojans lead by as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter, but saw UMS-Wright chip away little by little to make the game close down the stretch. Charles Henderson snapped the ball over the punter’s head late in the fourth to bring the Bulldogs within one score. On the ensuing possession, the Bulldogs drove the field to reach pay dirt on a one-yard run from Troy Dixon.
The Bulldogs two-point conversion fell incomplete, allowing Charles Henderson to escape with a wild win.
“I am super proud of our kids,” Dean said. “The goal from last year to now was to be 1-0 every week until there are no more weeks to play. We have ourselves in position to do something very special. We just have to fix a couple of mistakes.”
UMS outgained the Trojans in almost every offensive category, but the stat line is a bit deceiving.
Charles Henderson was set up on a short field on all but one of the scoring drives. The Trojan defense forced turnovers, five total, and receiver Kenyatta Jones gashed the Bulldog kick and punt teams for big gains multiple times.
“My teammates made a great block for me, and I just found the hole and hit it really hard,” Jones said. “We worked on it (special teams) all week long.”
Dean agreed with his return man.
“I am proud that we were able to make some plays to get a short field,” Dean said. “Special teams are a third of the game and we practice them everyday. We have been waiting on that all year, it’s called blocking. He (Jones) finally caught it and used his God-given ability and went north.”
Charles Henderson, set up by a big return on the opening kickoff by Jones, scored on the third play of the game on a six-yard run by Mondarius Dixon. The score marked the seventh time in the Trojans last eight games they have found the end zone on their initial possession.
READ MORE ON DIXON’S BIG NIGHT HERE
The offense seemed to come to life in the second quarter, as the Trojans turned a 14-7 deficit in to a 28-21 halftime lead.
In the second half, Charles Henderson’s playmaker, John Johnson, finally got free of the Bulldog defense and found himself on the receiving end of a 32-yard touchdown pass from Ingram.
Johnson said the Trojans went back to their old, reliable pass play.
“It was the same old four vert,” Johnson said. “The guy that had been covering me up all night left me, and I was wide open. Austin put it right on the money.”
With the win, Charles Henderson will meet Oneonta in the championship round of the AHSAA playoffs next week at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.
Dean expects Oneonta to be hungry for a title win after coming up short in recent years, but feels his team can’t overlook its own mistakes.
“They have been there three years in a row,” Dean said. “We got to worry about the mistakes we made tonight, if we don’t go back and work on sustaining drives and some fundamental aspects on defense, it ain’t going to matter. It is what got us here, and we have to do it for one more week.”
Kickoff for the state title game is set for 11 a.m. on Dec. 6.